Posts Tagged ‘Upset The Rhythm’

Kaputt – “Very Satisfied”

New one coming atcha from Upset The Rhythm and as usual its knocked pop on its ass. Kaputt’s “Very Satisfied” is an ode to the comfort of repetition, the strange calm of the mundane rendered exquisite. The lyrics are betrayed by the music, though as Kaputt are fare from rote. They mangle pop, trip it to the ground and roll it into the funhouse mirror. The post-punk bounce, scratches of horns, and nasal delivery slap a copy of Frankenchrist out of your sweaty paws with a handbag packed with the ‘70s ZE Records roster. The band pairs the song with a grotesque video that comes one like Thanksgiving at Troma Studios. Gonna want strap in and twitch for this one, its just the thing to get you going on a Monday morning.

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Trash Kit

I’m honestly not sure how Rachel Aggs keeps up with her pace. After solid LPs from Shopping in the past few years and another from Sacred Paws already this year, she’s reviving the post-punk tussle of Trash Kit this year. The band is one of the first places I’d herd her pleasantly knotted riffs and urgent vocals and with their third LP for UK hotspot Upset The Rhythm, they’re solidifying their place in the pantheon of latter day post-punk pickers. Horizon isn’t the scrappy slap across the face that their early albums embodied. Its still bouncing on a bubble of Afrobeat-knicked guitars and polyrhythmic patterns but there’s a richness this time around. While saxes still squawk like the lingering reminders of Maximum Joy’s perfection, the band’s layering in nodes of beautiful harmonies, melancholy violins, and playful pianos. This isn’t the stockpot output of a band looking to regurgitate pogo powered visions of the past. This is an album informed by post-punk’s progression, reinvention, and deconstruction, but also informed by pop’s need to put it all back in place again.

The record is an intricate sweater, knitted with love, time, and talent, unraveling in the breeze. Its something beautiful being picked at over and over until it finally breaks free and floats to the sky. The record breaks down into repeating patterns —broken glass reflecting again and again in a puddle, each layer no less glittering but just a bit further from reach. Aggs’ guitar has never been threaded so steadily while leaving its edges so smooth. Often she’s got a jagged quality, but there’s no sense that any part of Horizon might cut the listener. Its not dangerous in the traditional sense. There’s not rebellion and rancor like Shopping embody, but here the danger is that the listener might forever become lost in an Escher-like landscape of sound that answers questions with questions as to which way is up or out. Its been a big year for Aggs with this on top of the SP rec, but this is definitely the crowning achievement of her year.



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Terry – “Spud”

Ah bless ‘em there’s a new Terry tune about this morning. The band, fresh off the fallout from their third stunner I’m Terry, has a new 7,” Who’s Terry? and it bangs right in with their jangle-jerked political pop on first cut “Spud.” The band take their sights, suit up and get a ridicule riot in motion for the video, but underneath the Strangelove-ian clip, the band does what they do best – fizz n’ strum with a wink and a nudge and no small amount of catchy quirk. Damn fine janglin’ if you ask me. The single pops ‘round the turntable on July 19th.

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Hygiene – “Bring Back British Rail”

UK punks Hygiene scrape the scabs off of what they do best – wiry socialist punk that’s indebted to the legacy of Wire, Gang of Four and Wolfhounds. On album closer “Bring Back British Rail” they drape a veil of static over their Ted Talk punk pound for a nostalgic ode to public transit hammered through with piano and gang vocals. While the song’s a bit of a departure from the rest of the album’s cleanly clipped swagger, but it acts as a kind of rallying cry that crumbles to the ground in a cascade of chaos and discord. The record is out May 24th on Upset the Rhythm.



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Red Channel – “Demons”

Can’t go wrong with a new track on UK DIY powerhouse Upset the Rhythm and they’re offering up some prime post-punk/new wave goodness today. “Demons” is the first cut off the debut LP from L.A.’s Red Channel. The band has cobbled together an EP of stripped-down simmer that calls back to punk’s willingness to lop off the fringes. Atop a squirming beat the band backdrops the vocal magic of singers Melody and Casey who slash at singles from Blondie, The Go Go’s and We’ve Got a Fuzzbox and reassemble the pieces into their own image. The resulting track keeps its cool, never breaking a sweat but inviting dance and debauchery with a great detachment that pulls in some of their more Teutonic peers as well (Monopol, Starter). It’s a pulsating cut that positions the band as ones to watch indeed.



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Vital Idles – “Careful Extracts”

Got another peek at the new Vital Idles EP, out today on Upset The Rhythm, and it cuts just as hard as “Break A.” Clangin’ the post-punk dinner bell hard and making the call out to those with a hankering for a crunchin’ crush of guitars, clipped rhythms, and the strident slash of Jessica Higgins’ urgent vocals – “Careful Extracts” is another stunner. Jessica weighed in on the track, saying, “Just me and my, who cares! I wrote the words from bed, who cares! Really, it’s trying to shout or work through or against the looking for something with which to build a rationale, or being rational, or even being asked to be rationed, as in economic or efficient, while actually, sensually, potentially (phrasing not my own) having a rationale all the while of undoing and of trying to spread into that gap between being in a private space and anticipating the requirement to present.”

The band paired the track with a video that’s obscured and claustrophobic – the members flashing camera bulbs over themselves in barely seen snatches. It’s a complimentary take on their sun-parched propulsions. Grab that EP over at UTR ASAP!

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RSTB Best of 2018

So, it seems that 2018 is finally coming to an end. It’s been a hell of a year by most standards, but musically its been damn entertaining. Perhaps its fair that there’s some bright spot in all the chaos. Not to diminish the chaos, but when the negativity is at an all-pervasive fever pitch, its feels good to have something to hold onto. I’ll choose to remember 2018 as a banner year for music and for the birth of my second daughter rather than the year that page refresh politics threatened to give me an ulcer any day. Below are my favorite albums of the year, taking care to highlight some that might otherwise get forgotten. They’re in (quasi) alphabetical order with no other particular weight on the list. Keep your eyes out for a few more year-end features this week before I reset for the new year. As always, thanks for sticking with RSTB for these 12-odd years or so.

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Rattle

Nottingham duo Rattle throw out the pop formulas in favor of a percussive ping pong between members. The pair, Katharine Brown and Theresa Wrigley, weave a tapestry of hypnotic dance and percussive patter, both picking up the sticks to spar rhythmically with each other with only occasional forays into vocal volley. Sequence drops the listener into a trance, playing off of subtle shifts in ever evolving patterns, with each of the four songs on the record stretching towards the ten-minute mark. The songs have the effect of stripping away the surroundings of the listener, like a sonic suspension in sensory isolation, or in this case suspension in the rarefied air of rhythmic thrum. The record is best listened to in dim surroundings or with eyes closed altogether. Let the rhythms play over the mind, pushing accompanying brainwave patterns to the beat that the two women pluck out of thin air. In that environment Sequence begins to toggle the tumblers of the mind into new positions.

When vocals do arise in the mix, they’re often wordless – cooing, humming and moaning entwined with the insistent, ecstatic beats. They finally break into discernible phrasing on “Signal” but even then, the pair are all about repetition, turning their words into mantras that eventually push meanings to the background in favor higher states of consciousness. While the record is propulsive and even at times frantic, the overall effect is absolutely soothing. There’s a sense of natural evolution to each song, each player anticipating the other completely, and that ingrained trust is passed through the speakers to the listener. Brown and Wrigley are spirit guides, sonic Sherpas, clatter-packed chiropractors come to align your vibrations to their natural thump.

It’s a shift from the usual dose of post-punk and that drops from the bucket at Upset The Rhythm, but the DIY spirit is just as punk as anything else on the roster. Brown and Wrigley are working the crease between jazz, post-punk and drone and it works as a feast for the ears. Highly recommended as a background beat to get your own weird Birdman-esque mania working for you, or just to drop out in the negative zone for forty-odd minutes of float. Either way Sequence is a damn delight.


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Sauna Youth – “No Personal Space”

The recent album from Sauna Youth is a welcomed blast of bracing bile that chewed up wage gaps, gig economies, personal space issues and cultural collapse through constant distraction. The band’s ode to a bubble one’s own to have and to hold, “No Personal Space,” is a match-lit highlight of the album and thy give the track a DIY video treatment through lo-budget means, even leaving in the technical difficulties that arose.

The band notes that, “This was filmed in 5 minutes in the Peckham Arch practice space that we wrote the album in and whose electrical interference from the train tracks above features throughout this song. We used an iPhone 5, two iPhone 6s’ and an iPhone 7 using their inferior front cameras and it was edited in the free software Hitfilm Express in a couple of hours. It’s about constriction and liberation and having no personal space.” If you haven’t picked up the LP from Upset The Rhythm, now might be a good time!

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Sauna Youth

Sauna Youth have a handle on the brittle bite of punk that’s long served their country’s history. Their previous LP balanced a crucial clutch of frantic, diesel-paced guitar explosions with caustic hooks. There’s also a thread of art punk that often finds spoken word elements propping up in their work, pushing them out of the standard DIY tenure track. On their third LP they maintain their trajectory, melting away some of the hooks through sheer velocity, but never once letting up on their dedication to the raised hackle wild swing of punk’s fiercest proponents. While there’s not a single as potent as “Transistors” here, the whole package rubs the soul just as raw as anything they’ve brought forth in their catalog.

The album opens with the sucker-punch pounce of “Percentages” and it’s a good indication of the kind of bile and bent aluminum aesthetics the band is pushing to the front on Deaths. The bile in question finds them venting frustration out of multiple channels – the economic impact of sustainable arts and gig economies, political realities that outlive our dumbest estimation, and the daily distractions that threaten to kill our creative core. While the band channels all this into an intense half hour of cranium crunch, the venting of frustrations comes off cathartic more than angry. It’s destructive in the way demolition should be, but they’re smiling while they swing the hammer.

The band still leaves room for a spoken word piece here, which I appreciate, though it does derail the momentum of the album. The choice to forgo streamlined listening for their own indulgences and strange sources of joy seems to be the core of what makes Sauna Youth click. Like a pill that gets stuck in the throat, they’re still hitting the body to full effect, even if the ride’s sometimes uncomfortable. Deaths slots in nicely alongside the rest of this year’s stellar Upset The Rhythm roster, another disjointed slap to the face that’s sorely needed.



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